How to Factor in Individual Differences for Physique Progress

On this episode of the Rippedbody Podcast, I welcome back researcher and online coach, James Krieger, who I have invited back on the show to discuss one of the most important considerations for tweaking a nutrition and training program, individual differences.

Research is great at telling us what will likely work on average, but it isn’t able to tell you what will work best for YOU. In this interview, James suggests some simple questions you need to ask yourself when looking to optimize your nutrition and training strategies.

Not only is James one of the most educated researchers out there, he is also one of the most genuine guys in the industry and I really enjoyed this second deep dive chat with the one and only, James Krieger. 

Selected links

Show notes

  • Individual responses to different types of training and why it is important. – While research tells us important things, James explains that it looks primarily at the average responses. However, individuals do not necessarily respond like the average person. The art of coaching comes from seeing an individual response to the training. The same individual response can be said about diet manipulation. [01:15]  
  •  Making educated guesses based on research. –  Andy says as a coach, we have an educated guess based on what the research says, but we still need to tweak things to get the desired results. [04:00]
  • Experiment. – Use what you like, what has worked in the past, what the research reports, and then experiment. [05:25]
  • Research on meal patterns. – The research shows there is really no difference or advantage between meal patterns. As a coach, you can use the approach that works best for the client. Diets ultimately come down to client adherence. [07:20] 
  • Training volume vs. periodization. – The training research shows that if you equate training volume, periodization really doesn’t matter a whole lot. Again, this means you can use the approach that is best for the client. [09:50]
  • 21’s. – Andy’s use of 21’s with his friend, Keith. Keith likes to use this method in his training. [11:10] 
  • Using research as a framework. – Is research useless because it seems like individual responses vary greatly from the average response? James suggests the research still gives us a framework to work from. In the example of the leg extension study, if the individual was not responsive it might be a need for an increase in training volume. The research still suggests what will work for most people. When a person does not respond, other factors can be looked at for the individual. [12:50]
  • There is a mistaken idea that there is one way for everyone. [16:30]
  • HITT. – James reflects on a talk on high-intensity interval training. Even if the data suggested HIIT training is better, but the client can’t handle or hates HITT, HITT is not a good idea for this individual. That being said, if James wants to eat peanut butter cups all day, this would clearly not work. [17:45] 
  • “Option A” vs. “Option B”. – “Option A” and “Option B” both work from a scientific standpoint. The client hates doing “Option A”, which shows it is slightly better than “Option B”. Don’t even tell the client that they should try “Option A” if “Option B” is working and something they enjoy. [19:50]
  •  A coach’s stamp of approval. – James reflects on a client’s ability to make changes in their programming without the guidance of a coach. Some clients know what will work for them, but they want James’ stamp of approval. People tend to have intuition as to what will work for them. [20:10]
  • Preference vs. scientifically optimal. – When someone states a preference for something, don’t dismiss it just because the research says that it is not optimal on average. [22:30] 
  • Cardio example. – In the example of using cardio, how does the individual identify on their diet response? James suggests rating your hunger levels, fatigue levels, stress levels and strength levels on a daily or weekly basis. These identifiers can act as a signal as to how you are doing and how you are responding to the cardio. [23:20]
  • Cardio vs. food intake. – Weight loss scenario on using cardio versus reducing food intake. [27:20] 
  • Portion size. – Consider overall daily calorie intake for men versus women when going out to a restaurant. Portions are not designed based on body size or sex, so it is important to be mindful of what you are ordering based on your goals. [29:00]
  • North American diet. Andy reflects on Japanese students going to the United States for one year to study English. They often come back five to ten pounds heavier due to portion size. [30:00]
  • James shares a client example. – James started the client at 2300 calories per day. At the beginning, weight loss was not happening. James dropped down the diet to 2000 calories, the client was still not losing weight. James dropped the client to 1750 calories. This was a prime example for James on how sometimes you need to not be too focused on the research. [31:00]
  • Use of measurements. – James using a scale and tape measurements of clients. [34:30] 
  • Client abs. – James often needs to tamper clients’ expectations about getting visible abs, as this is the last area to get lean. [35:00]
  • Andy reflects on post-bulk. – There is a feeling of being skinny during the cutting phase up until the abs start to show up. The client often needs to fight through the last phase of cutting and resist the desire to start bulking again. [36:00] 
  • James’ advice on strength training. – Program design is generally training your muscle groups 2-3 times per week. Some clients love bro-splits, which is 1 muscle group per week. Even through a bro-split isn’t optimal, it might be best for that client. [37:00]
  • What is someone had unlimited time to train? – James suggests if you great very sore from a particular movement, it might not be something you want to do as frequently or limit volume per session. [40:30]
  • Myo-reps. – Myo-reps are high reps to failure or near-to failure with a set-pause technique. The concept being Myo-reps is that you ‘effective’ reps are near the end of the sets. The use of Myo-reps on some exercises could make you too sore, so it is hard to train that body part with enough frequency. [43:00]
  • Genetics. – Some people are predisposed to grow when they train due to genetics. Even within a person, some muscles tend to grow better than others. James has “swimmer’s shoulders”, and they tend to respond the best to training. James also trains his legs hard but doesn’t see nearly the same response. If you have a limited amount of time to train, you want to focus on the less responsive muscle groups and also the clients’ goals. [46:40]
  • US Naval Method for body fat percentage. – James suggests this is a pretty rough estimate. If your waist size is going down, you are losing body fat. [52:20]
  • Using BMI a machine. – The use of a BMI machine for an initial assessment of body fat, while not accurate, may be better than nothing for some people in establishing a baseline. [54:40]
  • Protein intake. – James discusses the use of protein per gram of lean body mass versus overall weight. The differences in these targets vary based on how lean the individual is and what target is more appropriate. For clients, James gives them a protein target but would rather they go too high. This is because there is a minimum baseline that he would like to get his clients over (~1 gram per pound of lean body mass). [55:10] 
  • Individual protein dose response. – Individuals can respond differently to different amounts of protein. [57:40]
  • Protein dose and height. – Andy suggests taking your height in centimeters and use this as a general target for your protein intake in grams. [58:40]
  • Lifting and calories burned. – Andy discusses the concept of burning one calorie per rep in a hard set. This can give you a rough guideline on how many calories you’re burning during a training session. [60:00]
  • Don’t ignore the individual. – The overall message from James is to pay attention to what the research says, but don’t ignore the individual. [1:01:20]

Thanks for listening – Andy and James

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Michael Garrico
Michael Garrico

Really enjoyed this podcast! James pointed out few important facts that got me thinking. Thanks for you effort Andy!


This podcast is fantastic. I always learn something new on your site. 😀

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